What Do You Need To Start Your Own Security Company – Anxiety filled me as I walked towards my boss. We were outdoors, having stepped out of our open office on a sunny, summer afternoon for privacy.
The next few weeks were a whirlwind of project handoffs, documenting what I could for my colleagues, and saying goodbye.
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On June 28, 2018, I left this office for the last time and entered the world of entrepreneurship full-time.
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. I wrote it on evenings, weekends and lunch breaks. I wrote every chance I got. I recorded voice memos to transcribe later while standing in line at the grocery store, or added notes on my phone when something came up that I thought should be included in the book.
I started writing in March, submitted the book to my publisher in October, and published it in January 2018.
Sounds simple enough when I put it this way, yes? But the truth is, there were many, many times when I thought this book would never be written, let alone published.
I have three children. In 2017, my oldest was in second grade, my middle was in Kindergarten, and the baby was three.
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That year, I was working more than 40 hours a week as a project management technician/engineer. My husband used to travel a lot for his job.
That year, my grandfather – also an engineer – had serious health problems all year and passed away before the holidays.
However, I did manage to write an 80,000 word book draft that would be edited to become the 60,673 word book
Driven by the need to help other women, to make sure that the things I had learned the hard way no one had to learn that way, I hit the publish button in January 2018.
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Although I had book guides along the way, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I had 1000 downloads in the first week and within 30 days of posting, I had two requests to speak to groups of young professionals. I took vacation days to travel to share his empowering message
And even though working full-time while launching the book was beyond exhausting, the process showed me that I might be able to turn the book into something more. Maybe I can start a mission-based business that could change the lives of thousands of engineers for the better.
Over the next few months, I thought about what my business might look like. I worked to find the right mentors so I could better understand the potential pitfalls of making an entrepreneurial leap.
I was equal parts scared and excited, but I knew this was the right leap for me and the best I could make if I wanted to make the biggest impact in the industry. It was time not just to take a small leap, but to dive off the cliff into the unknown.
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The only statistic more depressing than the percentage of women in engineering is the number of small businesses that start and fail.
The path of entrepreneurship additionally has a well-earned reputation for requiring very long hours. The reality is that most new business owners should expect to work more to earn less, with a high statistical probability of failure.
For these reasons and many others, entrepreneurship was a path I didn’t even consider as an option for many years.
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Want To Start Your Own Business? Here Are 8 Tips From The Pros
When I think of an entrepreneur, I think of a visionary, inspirational person like Elon Musk, Oprah, or Steve Jobs……AFTER they became household names. I think of an entrepreneur as an inventor or someone who thrives on taking risks.
These traits couldn’t be further from my personality. I’ll take calculated risks, but in general, I’m a risk-averse person. My creative traits are more about problem solving, teaching, coaching and writing than patent holding.
Additionally, I have enjoyed my career in design/project management in the technical areas of engineering. I also enjoyed, at least for a while, the illusion of security that comes from working for someone else.
I never woke up one day and said, “Today I’m going to start my own business.” It was much more like a whisper, a curious “what if?” sting in the back of my mind.
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Over the course of many years and many changes in my personal life, my work became less challenging, less fulfilling, and I wanted to make a bigger impact on the world. I felt the call to contribute more and chart a different path of my own vision.
That early whisper turned into a roar when I learned that there are many entrepreneurs making a living and making a difference with online business models that included books, online courses, speaking engagements, and virtual coaching. It started to feel like the pull I felt to start writing a book wasn’t just a one-off bucket list activity (which I honestly thought it might be when I first started writing).
Instead, it was more like the first domino toppled in a very long chain to an unknown destination.
We’ve survived our first year in business (and I’ve loved almost every minute of the journey so far!), and we’re well on our way to the two-year milestone.
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While I certainly don’t claim to have it all figured out, I thought it would be helpful to share four things I’ve learned on my own entrepreneurial journey to date that you might find useful if you’re considering starting your own one day.
Small businesses run by someone under the age of 30 are twice as likely to fail as other businesses, according to researchers at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. You usually have debt from school and aren’t established enough in your career in your 20s to really understand your strengths and potential, which can spell disaster if you try to start a business then. With rare exceptions, you simply don’t have the cash reserves to weather the storm of a full-time leap into entrepreneurship in your 20s.
I was 38 when I founded Engineers Rising LLC. I knew that very few businesses make any kind of profit until the second year, and even then those profits usually have to be plowed back into the business.
Even given my general aversion to risk (which is a topic for an entire blog in itself), my family and I were okay with it because we had made sound financial decisions, including prioritizing saving, investing, and life under means, for
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One of the main reasons I was able to make that leap was because I didn’t have the pressure of having to turn a profit right away (which frankly isn’t a reasonable expectation for most new businesses). I didn’t immediately depend on my business income to pay the mortgage or feed my family.
This meant I could focus on delivering maximum value to those I serve and thinking long-term, which was extremely valuable in establishing myself in the market.
I validated my business idea with a book and speaking before going into it full-time, giving me much more confidence and certainty that I could succeed. This is a path I would recommend for most engineers, especially if your business idea is related to information, consulting, or service-type products.
The obvious exceptions are if you plan to start a company that is a competitor to your current employer, or if you have signed an employment contract stating that all of your intellectual property belongs to your employer. Even then, you could establish your authority in your field by publishing technical articles on LinkedIn or even your employer’s blog.
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It costs very little to start a YouTube channel, website, blog or podcast about a potential business topic. It’s easy to set up a store on Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy. A book is a bit more of a commitment, but it was right for me (it might not be right for you).
These “side projects” are definitely time consuming, but they aren’t difficult if you do the implementation yourself, and many things can be automated if you allow a small budget for the automation software required. If you really want it, you’ll find time. If you can’t find the time……well, then maybe entrepreneurship isn’t the right path for you.
More importantly, these types of projects force you to regularly step out of that comfort zone, which is essential for those considering an entrepreneurial path.
Many of the most successful entrepreneurs today took years to establish themselves. Overnight success stories are myths. Starting a side project first allows you to use your day job to support your dream without the financial downside of going all-in on a half-assed idea that may not even have a market.
Start Your Own Business Worksheet
We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.” This very rarely works when you first start a business, especially a service-based business.
It’s like taking
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